Set up the laptop on the dining room table – check. Plug the power supply into the wall outlet – check. Plug the low-voltage power cord into the laptop – check. Turn the laptop on – check. All the bells and whistles start ringing, dinging, and buzzing – check.
So far, it’s just a normal day’s routine attempt to go on-line and access the Internet.
I’m using a new laptop this time around, so there will be some additional one-time steps to access my secure in-home network.
Let’s see, now. Check for WiFi networks – check. Find the in-home network and click on the “Connect” button – check. Enter in the secret password (known only to the very select few network users), check the box for “automatic connect” and click “Enter” button – check. Watch the lights and listen to additional bells and whistles – check.
All seems to be in tip-top form. Every indication attests to the new laptop having full access to the in-home network. Now, it’s time for business.
Double-click the desktop icon for browser and Internet access – check. Browser opens – check. I said, “check’! Hey, yoohoo, computer, I double-clicked on the browser’s icon and the browser screen appeared on the display. What the . . . . Something isn’t right. I never had any problems with this laptop while on vacation in the States. Oh computer: clicky-clicky. Come on. Why the . . . .
Well, forget the Internet browser for now. Click on the desktop icon for my email application – check. Whirr-whirrr, buzz-buzz, ding! The laptop’s display is filled with the email application’s screen, complete with all emails – check. Click on the “send/receive email” icon – check. I said, “click on the ‘send/receive email’ icon, computer. What the . . . .
Now I know it’s not the laptop’s fault. Were that so, this would be a terrible coincidence – both browser and email application not moving after opening – pointing to possible corrupt software. (Oh please, no! Not that!) Switch back to the Internet browser. The display is filled with the home page screen. Thank goodness – things are working. I’m connected to the Internet!
Wait a minute. I’m connected to the Internet, but at what speed? Things are starting to make sense and reality is starting to sink in. I’m back home using a slower Internet provider. Back during vacation time, laptop operating was lightning fast. Click an icon and “whammo!” you were transported to wherever it was you wanted to be. Here at home, it’s a different story. Click an icon, have a few sips of coffee, scratch that nagging itch, and finally you’re where you want to be. No “whirring,” no “buzzing,” and certainly no “ding!” Just simple, basic connectivity – no where near challenging the speed of light.
It’s good to be back home!
I should have realized there would be a lack of “lightning” quickness in my Internet access. I should have realized that I was back home where the pace of things is much slower. Most of all, I should have remembered the pace of life from the last twenty-four hours of experience: passing through the bureaucracy at the airport.
The flight back to the Philippines was wonderful. Neither baket ko (asawa ko) [my wife] or I had any complaints. We decided to take things a little slower on our trip back and life cooperated to the fullest. The first instance was the slow but determined walk from the airplane to the immigrations kiosks. Standing in lines with hundreds of others, waiting to have our passports inspected and stamped, life was slower than slow. Almost a dead standstill – the kind where the only movement occurs just as you’re ready to give up and try a different line. Onward at a snail’s pace, tourist by tourist, one by one.
Finally, after what seemed like the half-life of cobalt, it was our turn. We handed our passports and immigration forms over to the immigration’s agent, who did a remarkably detailed inspection of those documents. Then, out came the stamp. We asked for the one-year balikbayan entry to be entered into our passports, and we received the one-year stamps. (It’s not a “special” or unique stamp – it’s the same stamp everyone else receives, but is annotated for a one year stay in the Philippines.) The agent then handed our passports back to us and, with our “have a nice afternoon” farewell, left the kiosks for our next adventure – baggage claim.
Once again, time seemed to be ticking away with no activity occurring at our “baggage belt.” It was taking a while for the baggage to make its way from the belly of the airplane to that baggage belt. Then, with a couple of warning buzzes, the belt started up and the baggage began to dance its way to owners eagerly awaiting reunion with their belongings. I was prepared to spend a good while waiting for our baggage, but surprise of surprises: our bags were some of the first to come dancing down the belt.
Being among the first to receive their baggage, we were also among the first in line at the customs kiosks. “Nothing to declare” were the words of the day. Of course, our baggage was waved through.
Things were starting to pick up for us. The eventual shuttle bus ride to another terminal was uneventful – outside of our being the only ones on the bus. The follow-on check-in at the domestic terminal was at normal pace, as was the rest of the day’s travel.
Only thing – I should have remembered the slow times at the international terminal while I was firing up the laptop. The pace of life is a little slower, indeed. Now that I’ve replayed the day’s travel, I’m used to the pace and rather enjoying it. Welcome home, Paul!
Paul is a CPA and a retired tax accountant, having served companies and corporations of all sizes, as well as individuals, in public accounting practices. Prior to what he refers to as his "real job," he served a 24-year career in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a Master Chief Petty Officer. It was during this career that he met and married his OFW spouse of 35+ years, Emy, while stationed in London, UK. (Though he pleaded for the assignment, Paul never received orders to the Philippines.) A "Phil-phile" from an early age, Paul remembers his first introduction to the Philippines in the primary grades of a parochial elementary school where, one week each year, children donated their pennies to purchase school supplies, food and other necessities for Filipino children in need. That love for Filipinos continues to this day. Calling Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte--in the far northwestern part of Luzon--home (just about as far away from Davao as one can be while still being on one of the major islands) Paul prefers a more relaxed provincial life style, and willingly shares a different view of the Philippines from "up north"!